Keane’s Charge is the latest instalment of Iain Gale’s series set within the Napoleonic era. The previous books, Keane’s Company and Keane’s Challenge, have been well received, earning praise from the Napoleonic novelist master, Bernard Cornwell. This is my first foray into the writings of Iain Gale, but with the book set firmly in my favourite era, I had high hopes.
The main protagonist, James Keane, is a former man of the ranks who now serves the Crown and Wellington by gathering information on those formidable French. The story line is well balanced, with the author splashing just enough historical fact across the pages to keep even the nerdish of us happy. The book combines an imaginative storyline with well thought-out characters that are not out of place in the book or era. The author is skilled in portraying the differing scenes, but excels in the action sequences.
Overall, the book was a worthy read. If I had any issues, it would be the similarities to Cornwell’s Sharpe series. Sharpe and Keane as characters are men that could wear the same cloak. If coupled with the similar writing style between Gale and Cornwell, it can leave the reader a little disappointed. Not because the book is not an excellent read, but more because I didn’t feel I had heard a new voice within historical fiction. The second issue is very minor; I don’t think the book really holds up as a standalone novel. To gain the most enjoyment from this book, the previous two must be read. Despite, these two minor issues I do feel compelled to visit the earlier books in the series.